Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Conference Season

I have learned to love conference.  It seems that when we learn to appreciate conference that we begin to understand and feel the value of our modern day prophet.  That helps us to see that Heavenly Father really does care and love us today as much as any other time of the earth's existence.  Not just that he loves us as a religious group but individually and as a world.  President Monson is a prophet for the world, but we are the ones listening. 

My daughter taught me something a while back about conference.  She learned on her mission that in preparation for conference that if you will contemplate the questions you have about your life and/or the help that you need right now, and then pray with faith for the help to come, and then look and listen closely at conference that you will find the answers there.  I have found that to be true.  When we come prepared to listen and hear we will get the inspiration and guidance we are looking for.  

Go to conference!  And listen close for those answers. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

From Conception to Birth: A time for change

I was reading this great article from Segulah magazine written by Lani T. Whitney entitled Small Sacrifice.   (Click here to read article).  She mentions some of the difficulties and sacrifices in being pregnant and some thoughts and lessons that came as a result. 

I've had (and continue to have) the priveledge of being a father five times.  My wife has gone through pregnancy that many times and I have gone right along with her.  I remember the joy of that time in the Wilkenson Center when we called the hospital to get the result of the pregnancy test (This was before the at home tests).  The knowlege that we were pregnant was overwhelming as we expressed our excitement at the bank of pay phones that used to be there before cell phones.  People around us could see and hear our excitement although they didn't know the source.  I imagine some grumpy worker there saying in a drone voice "Another couple excited to be pregnant!" 

I remember back to times in our life where we would think with amazement that we had been pregnant more than not in our married life.  Pregnancy didn't often strike me as an ideal situation however to have those pregnancies early in our marriage was the ideal time.  Bodies were young, energy was high and ability to handle the juggling of many important things was at its peak.  So I would encourage those with the choice to have their children when they are young. 

When my wife was pregnant we would often think about the growth of that child and with amazement imagine what was growing and maturing at that point.  We had occasion to lean, for instance, that the brain forms and then connects together in the first couple weeks of pregnancy (assuming my brain is remembering correctly).  So much was happening every day that was truly amazing to produce a human being from such a little start. 

I remember a few years later buying a book to talk about how babies were made with our young children.  It was called A Child Is Born with pictures by Lennart Nilsson.  That book was amazing.  We could see so clearly what was happening as that child grew. It truly is amazing!
A Child Is Born

However; at least equally amazing are the changes that develop in the committed Mother and Father.  As that child is growing and preparing to live externally from the mother, the mother is changing and growing both physically and emotionally to love and care for that child so it can survive outside the mother even in its weakened infant state. 

Possibly most amazing is the way that the father typically grows in maturity and prepares to take on the added responsibility.  Much of this is emotional and mental but boils down to the fact that the father is learning that his selfishness must diminish so that the resources of the family including time and money can be reapportioned to allow and encourage that child's physical, emotional and social growth.  A basic change like how the food budget will change from what the couple preferred to what is absolutely needed for the baby and then the adults will eat off of what is remainder.  This child is a lengthy commitment that sometimes is almost as long as the father's age at the time of the first child.  So that father has to come to grips with the necessity that the couple must put that child first in many ways to raise them to have a chance for the child to reach toward its potential.  The father must be prepared to give up the vestiges of his childhood and to take on the mantal of an adult in a way that hasn't been thrust upon him previously. 

Big changes!  So the child actually is the catylist of the further maturation of the individual parents at the very time that it is at it's weakest.  Such economy in this plan of having families. 

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Guest Blog: Daughter Doppelganger

Last Saturday I accompanied our middle school chorus on piano at a district choir competition.  Imagine my surprise when, while enjoying the performance of another middle school's choir, I looked up onto the risers and saw my daughter Megan!  This was a particular surprise since Megan is (a) 22 years old, and (b) attending college in Utah, some 2,200 miles away.  (She does, however, enjoy singing!)

Well okay, it wasn't really Megan.  But the young woman on the risers looked a lot like her.  It was her hair that caught my attention first; long and curly, and looking a bit like she might have to wrestle it into submission on occasion, just like Megan's.  Her smile was reminiscent of Megan's too, and Megan smiles a lot, especially these days, since she's getting married in less than three months.  And the girl had a look about her, one of fierce determination or intense concentration.

Seeing Megan's teenage doppelganger brought a flood of warm memories into my heart, memories of the days when my daughters were little girls.  Don't get me wrong--I like them grown up too.  But the memories are different.  We don't dance much to Stevie Wonder's "Skeletons in the Closet" any more, and we don't hang upside down on the horizontal support bar of the swing set too much either.  (Truth is, we don't even have a swing set any more!)  We don't jump on the trampoline or do cartwheels together (which is a good thing, because the last time I tried that my body let me know in no uncertain terms that it was time to find a different shared activity).  There are no tail-ends of pigtails to curl around my finger, no matching outfits to hunt for, no jelly shoes to buy.  But although my little girls are grown, they've left behind these happy memories--and many, many more.

We have a plaque on the wall in our family room, designed like one of those old-fashioned silhouettes.  A little girl is leading a goose by a ribbon tied around its neck, and the caption reads: "If we could see laughter, it would look like little girls."  Today I thank my not-so-little girls for all the smiles and laughter they've brought into my life.  And I look forward to my daughters and I making special memories in the years ahead with a new generation of little girls. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Till we meet again

Today one of my client’s died.  I received this information from an unconfirmed source so called the boyfriend to confirm it.  An unrecognized female voice answered the phone and I ask for the boyfriend who immediately came to the phone crying.  My client and her boyfriend they had a very unusual relationship.  A relationship of mutual dependence and respect.  Both were people that needed a lot of help in life and each one of them were able to be the help that was needed to the other in just the right amounts.  Both had ways about them that were troublesome.  Their practical need for each others skills helped them overcome the troublesome traits that each had.  They each provided trustworthy service for each other. 

I remember times when she would complain about him and something he had done and it seemed she always came around saying “that wasn’t him”.  To some that would mean that he acted out of character, but to her that was a literal statement.  She meant that someone else had taken his place and even though they looked just like him, it wasn't him.  So she found it easier to forgive him during those times.  In her mind, the real he was never anything but his best self. 

Then of course there were other times when she would just praise him for how much he had done or how he had surprised her on her birthday or for some other occasion.  It was impressive to see how much she loved him and despite their tarnished minds and bodies how they cared and helped each other. 

When one of my client’s die it makes me think of my beliefs about life after death.  My expectation is that her spirit is separate from her body and has gone to a place separate from this earth, a world of spirits.  There she has a spirit that does not have the pain or disabilities she was accustomed to living with.  I imagine that would be a relief but would also be a great exercise in discovering a new reality.  Not only have the rules changed due to death and being temporarily without her body, but her disabilities are no longer haunting her.  Two big changes to get accustomed to.   

In an odd way she was a good example to me and others of dealing with obstacles.  Her obstacles were often barriers with most of the rest of the human race.  Nevertheless she lived in the same world as all of us though she mostly experienced it different than we do.  I wish her well in her new reality and hope and expect that she will have other spirits there to help her adjust.  Maybe they will have the same titles as here; counselors and case managers.  I suspect now she will part of the majority and no longer a niche minority.   

She did well in a very inconvenient and difficult life.  My hopes and prayers for a better future go with her. 

On our side of the veil when a person dies we often have feelings similar to what this song invokes.

Hymn to the Fallen by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir

On the other side of the veil, I can't help but wonder if the feeling isn't more like what is created with this song.
Battle Hymn of the Republic--Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Glory, Glory Hallelujah! 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

E.S. Posthumus--Trailer music

I learned a while back about trailer music which is music that is used in Movie trailers or rather movie previews but is often not the music used in the actual movie.  It turns out that many movies don't have the soundtrack music ready until close to the release of the movie.  But they need trailers to be shown at the theater and on the Internet to start getting some interest in their music. 

There are a number of people who make this kind of music but the one I wanted to put samples out for today is E.S. Posthumus.  E.S. Posthumus is a music group that was created by two brothers who were taught to play the piano by their mother.  Helmut and Franz Vonlichten have created a lot of music that has been used over and over in movie trailers and on T.V. shows.  (For more info click here)

Below are two examples of their music which is used in a movie trailer.  This first video is a homemade movie trailer with scenes from the movie Equalibrium.  It has a lot of gun play involved and if that bothers you please go to the next one.  The song is Ebla by E.S. Posthumus.

Here is some video from Planet Earth IMAX to the music of Nara by E.S. Posthumus


Monday, March 28, 2011

From a distance

I met with a client today that feels the weight of his problems pretty heavily.  He started out telling me what he imagined my thoughts were before he came in for his appointment.  He imagines that I take ten minutes prior to our appointment to go over affirmations for myself that I can make it through the hour we will spend together and to remind myself that the time will pass quickly.  He imagines that his problems weigh on me as much as they do on him.  When I told him that I enjoyed meeting with him and looked forward to our appointments he was unsure whether to believe me or not. 

Later in the appointment I think he thought he would throw me a curve ball that I couldn't hit.  So he wondered since I had known him for so long and knew him pretty good if I could identify five "accomplishments" in his life.  I took on the challenge and surprised him with what I came up with. 

As I think about our time today I realize that we all need to feel our lives have been worthwhile and have value to others and ourselves.  Sometimes we live so fully in the moment of life and problems that we don't see the bigger picture.  Often my job is to see that bigger picture and help my clients see it as well.  Help them see how their days piece together into a large beautiful tapestry. 

Each of our lives have beautiful patterns and when we can step back and see it from a distance we can appreciate the beauty of it.  Too often our daily lives are so close to the weave of the tapestry and daily activities of life that we cannot appreciate that something more than just survival is happening.  Certainly our tapestries are all different with different patterns, each with a beauty that requires appreciation.  Maybe the appreciation will require some detailed knowledge of our life but the beauty is there for anyone that will take the time to look, including ourselves.  When seen and appreciated in this way it is much easier to recognize the accomplishment and fulfillment that life, even a difficult life, can bring. 

When the tapestries of our family or our society or our world are all put together the combined view is beautiful as well.  So while our individual life might feel of little value in the daily grind, when seen as a whole life or as a family tapestry or a societal flow of life it fills an important place in the world, not as filler but as an integral part of the widening world around us.   

After I told him what accomplishments I saw in his life he was calmer and quiet as he considered what I had said.  He recognized that what things I highlighted from his life were indeed accomplishments.  I started at the more concrete and finished with the more character oriented ones and I think he saw himself differently than he did before.  He saw that maybe he did fit into this life and maybe wasn't the foreigner that he felt he was before.

What started with a question that he thought had no answer turned into an answer that helped him to see his valued place in life.  

This reminded me of a song by Bette Midler.  Maybe you can guess it. Here is a performance of it. 

and a second video with pictures that add to the song.

Lyrics of From a Distance by Bette Midler.

From a distance the world looks blue and green,
and the snow-capped mountains white.
From a distance the ocean meets the stream,
and the eagle takes to flight.

From a distance, there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
It's the voice of hope, it's the voice of peace,
it's the voice of every man.

From a distance we all have enough,
and no one is in need.
And there are no guns, no bombs, and no disease,
no hungry mouths to feed.

From a distance we are instruments
marching in a common band.
Playing songs of hope, playing songs of peace.
They're the songs of every man.
God is watching us. God is watching us.
God is watching us from a distance.

From a distance you look like my friend,
even though we are at war.
From a distance I just cannot comprehend
what all this fighting is for.

From a distance there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
And it's the hope of hopes, it's the love of loves,
it's the heart of every man.

It's the hope of hopes, it's the love of loves.
This is the song of every man.
And God is watching us, God is watching us,
God is watching us from a distance.
Oh, God is watching us, God is watching.
God is watching us from a distance

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Manly Man Training #6: Prepare to lift

As men we are often called upon to lift things.  It is true that all of us are not strong physically but generally speaking we are the ones with the most strength to lift what needs to be lifted.  I remember as a youth going to help move members of the ward frequently.  I enjoyed that, possibly because moving to me was a good thing since we had done it so much in my family due to my father's serving in the military for many years. 

One time I remember moving someones dryer with a man in the ward.  I wrapped my arms around it and lifted and took a few steps and noticed that the other fellow wasn't there, it was just me moving it.  I didn't know until then that I could move something of that size by myself.  It helped my confidence. 

Much more important than lifting furniture or boxes of things is when the Lord calls upon us to lift another person.  That is to help them grow to a higher level of understanding. Lifting others is different than lifting things in that it requires a sensitivity to the Spirit and a spiritual preparation rather than strength and a reasonably functioning body. The sensitivity to the Spirit is required to direct us to the person and the method to use to lift or aid someone.  The spiritual preparation allows us to have the Spirit and get those directions from the Lord. 

President Harold B. Lee said, "You cannot lift another soul, until you are standing on higher ground than he is. You must be sure, if you would rescue the man, that you yourself are setting the example of what you would have him be.  You cannot light a fire in another soul unless it is burning in your own soul" (April Conference 1973).  [On the flip side of things you can see that one of the difficulties in accepting help from someone would be to accept that they are on "higher ground", and you on lower ground, needing the help.]

So we must develop ourselves spiritually which is to stay stand on higher ground in order to be able to lift another.  Which of course means we have to be ready to climb and exercise ourselves spiritually.  We must be constantly looking up and desiring to grow and move upward and forward.  Then we are positioned to lift others and bring them up to where we are. 

Sometimes this will be a friend, an acquaintance or even a stranger the Lord will bring to us because He can trust us to bring them up.  Probably more often this will be a ward member or a family member that we need to lift up, to strengthen, love, have and help them have confidence in not only themselves but also in the Lord.  It is impressive how the Lord will use us when we show Him we are willing and able. 

The Lord will give us opportunities to grow.  Many will occur through the training in church.  Church attendance, service, and callings will give us opportunities to grow and develop.  Other opportunities will be outside the church in our work and recreation.  Probably the largest area where we will receive growth opportunities is through our family relationships.  Getting along with our wife, understanding and raising children and maintaining and creating relationships with our families of origin and the in-laws.  These experiences will help us immensely to be trustworthy to the Lord. 

As we do our part and develop ourselves and lift others we need not worry about ALL the lifting that needs done or how to do ALL the spiritual work that needs to be done.  Instead we just need to do our part. 

Elder Uchtdorf mentioned in a talk in conference how each person doing his part will get all the work done that the Lord needs doing. 

"Some years ago in our meetinghouse in Darmstadt, Germany, a group of brethren was asked to move a grand piano from the chapel to the adjoining cultural hall, where it was needed for a musical event. None were professional movers, and the task of getting that gravity-friendly instrument through the chapel and into the cultural hall seemed nearly impossible. Everybody knew that this task required not only physical strength but also careful coordination. There were plenty of ideas, but not one could keep the piano balanced correctly. They repositioned the brethren by strength, height, and age over and over again—nothing worked.
As they stood around the piano, uncertain of what to do next, a good friend of mine, Brother Hanno Luschin, spoke up. He said, “Brethren, stand close together and lift where you stand.”
It seemed too simple. Nevertheless, each lifted where he stood, and the piano rose from the ground and moved into the cultural hall as if on its own power. That was the answer to the challenge. They merely needed to stand close together and lift where they stood...
You may feel that there are others who are more capable or more experienced who could fulfill your callings and assignments better than you can, but the Lord gave you your responsibilities for a reason. There may be people and hearts only you can reach and touch. Perhaps no one else could do it in quite the same way.
Our Heavenly Father asks that we represent Him in the noble work of reaching out and blessing the lives of His children. He asks us to stand firm with the power of the priesthood in our hearts and souls and give the calling we have at this moment our best efforts.
Brethren, as strong as you are, you cannot and you should not lift a piano by yourself. Likewise, none of us can or should move the Lord’s work alone. But if we all stand close together in the place the Lord has appointed and lift where we stand, nothing can keep this divine work from moving upward and forward.
Brethren, may we cease to aspire and cease to retire!
May we always remember this profound lesson: that we are banner bearers of the Lord Jesus Christ, upheld by the Holy Spirit of God, faithful and true to the end, each one devoted to give our all to the cause of Zion and bound by covenant to stand close together and lift where we stand." (October conference 2008)

Often our lifting will be done with our wife and what is required will not always be as effortless as lifting one little child between the two of us. 
Be prepared to serve and love it!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...